Microsoft and Google to sue to release information on NSA surveillance involvement

Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) are moving to sue the U.S. government for the right to release more information on the companies' involvement in NSA surveillance programs. Microsoft's outspoken General Counsel Brad Smith wrote today that, with negotiations with the NSA having broken down, Microsoft will move forward "in the hope that the courts will uphold our right to speak more freely." A Google spokesperson: "there is still too much secrecy around these requests."

The Guardian reported last week that the NSA had "paid millions of dollars to cover the [PRISM compliance] costs of major internet companies." The tempest of public attention escalated yesterday, after The Washington Post reported that the U.S. government will pay $278M during the fiscal year to telecommunications firms for clandestine access to their networks.

At stake is consumer perception (and business) of what degree of privacy can be expected from the services provided by tech companies. Microsoft, Google, Apple (AAPL), Yahoo (YHOO), Facebook (FB), AOL, Twitter, and Reddit have all moved to distance themselves from the NSA scandal.

It appears that major tech companies believe transparency is a better option than leaving users to fill in the blanks for themselves.

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Comments (8)
  • Investorblogger
    , contributor
    Comments (9) | Send Message
    Of course they would. While people vote once in 4 years for those who govern the highest offices, these companies need people to vote every day with their wallets. They are going to respect their customers' privacy more than the government needs to.
    30 Aug 2013, 02:12 PM Reply Like
  • Dampflok
    , contributor
    Comments (1343) | Send Message
    Not getting it, first they get paid, now they sue? Explanation please!
    30 Aug 2013, 03:57 PM Reply Like
  • jb8967
    , contributor
    Comments (467) | Send Message
    Easy answer. The impairment costs to brand and/or reputation (resulting in lower customer loyalty/retention) are significantly higher than the costs imposed by government snooping into their infrastructure.


    Remember, these are essentially amoral multi-national institutions with profit goals. Many of their customers are not US businesses nor US citizens. Lack of transparency is killing their competitiveness, lowering the barrier to entry for new competition, and/or creating disruptions that supplant their future profitability. No wonder they're pleading for relief.
    30 Aug 2013, 04:32 PM Reply Like
  • gmmpa
    , contributor
    Comments (672) | Send Message
    As a stockholder of two of these great companies and consumer of all these Internet services I am driven by profit and the usefulness of this great electronic technology. I will give up BOTH of the ladder in a heartbeat if the cost is the loss of my individual liberty and freedom. In the end nothing else matters! The Obama administration's NSA needs to respect the US Constitution, the Will of the People, and the freedoms guaranteed in our founding documents.
    30 Aug 2013, 04:40 PM Reply Like
  • Covingtonium
    , contributor
    Comments (490) | Send Message
    Did you seriously doubt that the government was violating multiple laws? Governments are the greatest form of evil ever.
    2 Sep 2013, 11:01 PM Reply Like
  • mvermaak
    , contributor
    Comments (504) | Send Message
    I cannot imagine that companies will not realize that the heart of all business is confidentiality and using BlackBerry you at least have some safety net or a feeling of security as surely data gathered will not be for nsa only
    Surely secret information is used against all foreign companies and enemies both political or private
    30 Aug 2013, 06:11 PM Reply Like
  • Gainster
    , contributor
    Comments (122) | Send Message
    I wonder why everybody are so surprised, it has been accessible knowledge that there is a NSA backdoor to Windows for many years. Why are the media suddenly picking it up now?
    31 Aug 2013, 04:48 AM Reply Like
  • Investorblogger
    , contributor
    Comments (9) | Send Message
    It's the context that's different. The Snowden leaks are everywhere, the NSA, the Guardian Newspaper reports... backdoors to many services: Facebook, Google, Microsoft... Spying on Allies, too. This time it's BIG NEWS. And Snowden isn't finished yet. It's no wonder that the NSA/US government wanted to shut him up. What's next? And all the time the US Govt. complains that China is spying on the US... Perhaps if they shout loud enough about it, we'll only focus on the Chinese spying! Huh! Turns out the biggest cybercriminals work inside Washington.
    6 Nov 2013, 11:54 AM Reply Like
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